Former Assemblyman takes on Los Angeles City Hall over Griffith Park Public Access routes

photo: Friends of Griffith Park

Friends of Griffith Park, together with the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust, and the Los Feliz Oaks Homeowners Association, filed a Motion in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the City of Los Angeles’ decision to close the Beachwood Gate to the Hollyridge Trail in Griffith Park on April 18, 2017.  Former Assemblyman Mike Gatto is representing the parties who initiated the lawsuit.  One of the consequences to the city’s closing the public access, could be the reverting of Griffith Park back to the heirs control.

On March 13th, the City announced its decision to close permanently access to the Hollyridge Trailhead at the top of Beachwood Canyon, claiming that it acted in response to a ruling in the pending court case of Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables vs. City of Los Angeles. The Hollyridge Trail accessed from this area has been used by hikers since the 1920s. The popular trail affords one of the easiest access points and best views of the world famous Los Angeles landmark, the Hollywood Sign. Nearby resident associations – Los Feliz Improvement Association, Oaks Homeowners Association, Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association, and Lake Hollywood Homeowners Association – were shocked to learn of the City’s decision especially since it directly contradicts the judge’s ruling.

Related:  Griffith heirs join fight to reopen popular hiking trail to Hollywood sign

The closure of the Beachwood Drive entrance is “against the spirit of the grant by the Griffith (family),” said attorney Mike Gatto, who is representing the Griffith family trust and the two other groups.

The “motion to intervene” will give the groups a voice in the final settlement and judgment talks, and allow the parties to “assert the interest of anybody who wants to hike, and anybody who lives in around the neighborhoods,” he said.

2 Urban Girls reached Mike Gatto who shared, “There are several land grants, dating back to the 1800’s, that cover the use of land known as Griffith Park.”   “Terms include the land MUST be kept as a park, open to the public, forever, or the Griffith Trust has a right to step in and protect the public’s rights.” said Gatto.

“If the court finds the city is mismanaging Griffith Park, it goes back to them (the family),” Gatto noted. “There are really serious consequences to this.”

2 Urban Girls further inquired about those consequences, if Griffith Park reverts back to the trust.

Gatto replied, “No one at the Griffith Trust wants this to happen, nor will that happen.  They, along with the other organizations involved, just want the city to maintain public access to a public park.  As for the neighborhoods nearby, remember there are 3-4 main arteries to get into Griffith Park. The city’s idea that “there are problems associated with access along one street, so let’s just dump those problems on the other streets and neighborhoods” is not a solution, and that attitude is one that every neighborhood should worry about. If they did it here, they can do it to you.”

Gatto is a native of the area and said when the groups contacted him, he was happy to help.

“I agreed to get involved because I thought it was a clear moral cause.  The stipulation plainly violated the judge’s order. And at a time where everyone is working to solve our park deficit, the city shouldn’t be giving away to a private party an access point to a public park.” said Gatto.

“The Griffiths have a long history of protecting the original intent of the gift to the city of Los Angeles, that this is a public park” given to the public forever, Gatto said.

What’s next for Mike Gatto?  He has opened an exploratory committee to run for Treasurer of California in 2018.



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